The urge to have new or different equipment is very often hard to resist; everyone has had the “grass is greener” feeling at one point or another about something. I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a gear junkie. I like to read about, try, and fiddle with gadgets. I will also admit that equipment will sometimes give me a headache trying to deal with it, or that I’ll modify, change, and attempt to improve things beyond help. But for me, at least some of the time, part of the fun in photography and astronomy is all the cool stuff I get to play with.
So, with that in mind… enter my new telescope mount, the Losmandy GM-8.
My previous mount was the Celestron CGEM. It was a pretty good mount; it was large, heavy, could carry a respectable payload and had excellent computer GoTo alignment that sent that payload to any object in the sky with outstanding accuracy. It wasn’t perfect, of course. One issue I didn’t like and was unable to adjust out was “slop” or play in the Right Ascension axis. I sold my CGEM to fund the GM-8, which I bought used.
The GM-8 is a swell little mount, as I found out last night. Comparing it to the CGEM is a little bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison, though. First of all, the one I bought doesn’t have computer GoTo. That’s ok, I actually wanted that because I like to find things on my own. The GM-8 is also rated to have less payload than the CGEM. The CGEM is said by Celestron to be able to carry 40lb, compared to the 30lb spec for the GM-8, which puts it in the same class as the AVX/HEQ5 mounts. However, the C9.25 rides just fine on it.
My first thought as I unpacked it from the box was about it’s size: it was obvious at first glance that it belonged in a lighter weight class. To me it seemed almost small, as I was accustomed to the large, bulky head of the CGEM. I have read complaints about the tripod for the GM-8; however, upon setting it up, I got the impression that it was a nice, well made tripod. When the legs are retracted it sits very low to the ground. Extending them brings it up to a nice hight for SCTs. I really like the large, easy to use knobs on it. I found them easier to use than the lock levers on the CGEM tripod. The wiring for the motors is external, instead of internal like the CGEM, but I found that it posed no problems. The counterweight shaft is very large and very adequate. The two 7 lb. counterweights are small, and unfortunately both of them together at the end of the shaft were not enough to counterweight the C9.25, leaving me to jury-rig a temporary weight in addition. Last night I took it out for testing. I really enjoyed the fact that I could move the mount without having to touch the clutches, and that it resumed tracking as soon as you stopped. As far as I could tell it performed very well. It needed careful balancing; I assume this is because it is a smaller, lighter payload mount. It carried the C9.25 fairly well. It tracked very well, and I can’t wait to use it for lunar/planetary astrophotography.